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Cell Death Differ. 1998 Apr;5(4):251-61.

Analysis of nuclear degradation during lens cell differentiation.

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U450 INSERM, développement, vieillissement et pathologie de la rétine, Unité associée CNRS, Association Claude Bernard, 29 rue Wilhem, 75016 Paris, France.


Lens cells demonstrate a terminal differentiation process with loss of their organelles including nuclei. Chromatin disappearance is characterised by the same changes as most apoptotic cells, i.e. condensation of chromatin and cleavage into high molecular weight fragments and oligonucleosomes. The endo-deoxyribonucleases (bicationic (Ca2+, Mg2+), mono-cationic (Ca2+ or Mg2+) and acidic non-cationic dependent nucleases) are present in lens fibre cells. Our results suggest that the acidic non-cationic nuclease (DNase II) plays a major role in chromatin cleavage. This nuclease, known to be lysosomal, is found in lens fibre nuclei and only an antibody directed against DNase II inhibits the acidic DNA cleavage of lens fibre nuclei. In addition, there must be another DNase implicated in the process which is not DNase I but appears to be a Ca2+, Mg2+ dependent molecule. Regulation of these DNase activities may be accomplished by the effect of post-translational modifications, acidic pH, mitochondrial release molecules, growth factors or oncogenes. Finally, fibre cells lose organelles without cytoplasmic elimination. The survival of these differentiated cells might be due to the action of survival factors such as FGF 1.

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